FACT CHECK: Chris Christie Makes Misleading Claim About Donald Trump’s Iowa And New Hampshire Polling Numbers
During a Sept. 24 appearance on NBC News’s “Meet The Press” with Kristen Welker, former New Jersey Republican Gov. Chris Christie claimed former President Donald Trump is barely at 40% in Iowa and is under 40% in New Hampshire, according to the latest polls.
Experts suggest Christie was “cherry-picking” data from recent polls. Most polls have Trump over 40% or even 50% in early states.
In addition to discussing the 2024 campaign cycle on “Meet The Press,” Christie said he would not run for New Jersey Democratic Sen. Bob Menendez’s seat, according to Fox News. Christie told Welker he has completely ruled out the decision, the outlet reported.
“If you look at Donald Trump in the latest polls in both Iowa and New Hampshire, the two earliest states, he is barely at 40% in Iowa, and he is under 40%, at 34% and at 38%, in New Hampshire. That means that between 60% and 65% of Republican voters in those two very important early states want an alternative,” Christie said.
The claim is highly misleading. According to a poll conducted from Sept. 19-21 by Public Opinion Strategies that is available via FiveThirtyEight, Trump was at 46% in Iowa. Polls conducted from Sept. 14-18 by the Trafalgar Group and Beacon Research/Shaw & Company Research show Trump at 49% and 46% in Iowa, respectively.
In addition, a Sept. 17-19 poll conducted by Fabrizio, Lee and Associates shows Trump at 45% in Iowa. However, it is important to note that this poll was conducted by the former Republican President’s Make American Great Again, Inc. Similarly, the Beacon Research/Shaw & Company Research poll was sponsored by Fox Business. The latter three polls also appear on FiveThirtyEight.
Trump also led the pool of Republican candidates in an Iowa State University/Civiqs poll published on Sept. 8, with 51% of Republicans who will “definitely” or “probably” attend the Iowa caucuses in January naming him as their first choice pick. (RELATED: Was This 2024 Election Projection Published By Reuters?)
In an InsiderAdvantage poll conducted on Sept. 20 in New Hampshire, Trump again claimed the top spot among voters at 42%. The poll can also be viewed via FiveThirtyEight.
Likewise, a September 2023 New Hampshire Primary Poll conducted by CNN/University of New Hampshire found 39% of voters statewide claimed Trump as their first choice pick. Additionally, 48% of registered Republicans selected Trump as their first choice candidate.
Furthermore, Trump also emerged as the frontrunner in two Sept. 26 CBS News polls, leading with 51% in a poll focused on the 2024 Iowa Republican Presidential Caucus and with 50% in a poll focused on the 2024 New Hampshire Republican Presidential Primary, according to RealClearPolitics. These polls were released just two days after Christie claimed Trump was struggling in both key states.
Brian Schaffner, a Newhouse Professor of Civic Studies at Tufts University, called Christie’s comments as a reflection of “cherry picking” polls to support his argument in an email to Check Your Fact.
“For example, in Iowa, the most recent high-quality Iowa poll (the Selzer poll for the Des Moines Register) has Trump at 42%. But most other polls from Iowa in the past month or so have Trump’s support somewhere in the mid 40% range,” Schaffner said.
He also elaborated that two polls in New Hampshire, an August poll from Echelon Insights and a September poll from the University of New Hampshire, were the only known examples that recently showed Trump below that mark in any state.
“The one thing I would say in his defense is that at least he is cherry picking numbers from polls that are generally well regarded in the industry (the Selzer poll in Iowa and the UNH poll in New Hampshire),” Schaffner elaborated.
Emily Ekins, the Director of Polling at the Cato Institute, agreed with Schaffner’s sentiment in an email to Check Your Fact.
“I’m not sure where Chris Christie got those polling numbers saying Trump was only at 40% in Iowa or 34-38% in New Hampshire,” Ekins said. “Since at least May, Trump has polled above 40% in both states and at nearly 50% in Iowa and 44% in New Hampshire.”
Ekins stated that Trump was not below 40% in any of the early primary states and even later primaries, going as high as 57% in Georgia, albeit with only one recently-conducted poll.
“Perhaps Chris Christie was looking at the’ ‘spread’ between candidates’ polling numbers, which is the difference between the highest and next highest vote getter,” Ekins said, elaborating that Christie could have been mentioning the difference between Trump and the runner-up.
Trump’s spokesperson, Steven Cheung, refuted Christie’s claim, telling Check Your Fact that the former Republican President is “dominating the polls.”
“Chris Christie lives in [a] fantasy land. President Trump is dominating the polls–in the early states and also in the general. This is nothing more than the rantings of a stone cold loser who spends every day on the cable news casting couch auditioning for a contributor contract whenever his joke of a campaign ends up in flames,” Cheung said.
Check Your Fact has also contacted Christie’s campaign spokesperson for comment and will update this piece if one is received.